Meditation and morning pages: my tools for stress managementDenise Leicester
Wellness expert Denise Leicester gives us tips on how to relax and reduce mental clutter with a new daily routine.
When stress gets on the top of me and I feel myself getting burdened with the pressures of work I have two tools that I find really help to calm my mind and balance my emotions, helping to release any stress. The first is meditation, I started to study meditation in the late 1980’s when I first went to India – a ten-day silent retreat, where I was up at 4.00am, meditated for 14 hours a day, ate simple vegetarian food in the morning and nothing after midday. Ten tough days later, inner peace radiated through my eyes and skin. I looked ten years younger, felt such an abundance of joy and delight, my mind was calm and my emotions balanced.
Why is meditation such a powerful tool in balancing our mind, emotions and rejuvenating our body?
The reasons lie in the science behind the power of the mind: Harvard Medical School Researchers discovered that ‘disease-fighting genes’ were far more active in people who practised relaxation methods than those who didn’t. They even went as far as to explore the theory that people could ‘turn on’ these disease-fighting genes. They coined it ‘the relaxation effect’, highlighting that genes responded to things like behaviour, mood and environment, and regular relaxation increased the benefits.
My best techniques for stress management
Yogis have been giving this simple piece of advice for thousands of years: Take a deep breath and relax. Watch the tensions melt from your muscles and all your niggling worries vanish.
Another technique that I find helps prevent stress from taking over my day is ‘morning pages’. ‘Morning pages’ are three pages of stream-of-consciousness longhand written immediately upon waking. There is no ‘wrong’ way to do morning pages – it involves scribbling down whatever crosses your mind in those first few moments of waking: dreams, thoughts, worries, shopping lists – anything that comes in! You don’t have to read them back or show anyone else, just make sure you do the same again the following day.
To me, morning pages help clear my mind of the low energy nonsense that would otherwise float around and cloud my day causing unnecessary stress and anxiety. Through morning pages I began noticing many repetitive patterns of emotions and thoughts. I realised my mind is primarily negative in its nature and looks to find problems. I began to identify patterns of worry when they surfaced in all sorts of forms.
Before morning pages I would not have identified these patterns, yet through the practice of writing them down I learned that I can also let them go, which lead me discover another part of myself that existed beyond the mental chatter. This part of me is calm yet like a bubbling brook of joy and creativity, expansion and expression… I like to think of it as my true self – the authenticity that resides within each and every one of us.
I deeply encourage you to explore the concept if you haven’t already, or develop it even further if you have. Nurture your inner health and beauty and it will soon radiate outwards for all to see.